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Saturday, November 21, 2009

"Chatpata Chaat"- Kutchi Dabeli

Out of the many street foods famous in Pune,India....this Gujrati (from Kutch) tangy-spicy snack is becoming popular over time. The 'Kutchi Dabeli' stall near my house in Pune is especially dear to me,because it was 'M's and my favorite spot to hang out in the evening during our college days.There was this whole road with various stalls of - Dabeli,Pani Poori, Bhel poori,Ragada Pattice,Dosas, Chinese food etc etc( I know your mouth is already watering hearing all those names!!)...many youngsters would be hanging out there during evening time.I think my friend 'A' is nostalgic about this too and hence was asking me for the recipe.This one is for you 'A'.....hope you enjoy it!
Kutchi Dabeli is almost like a burger but without a 'formed' patty. The filling is made up of  mashed potato spiced with 'Dabeli masala', and nuts and dried fruits are added to give a sweet-sour taste which makes your mouth water. The filling is usually topped with onions, Pomogranate seeds,roasted peanuts, cilantro, thin sev etc.But let me tell you..the 'Dabeli walas' are pretty smart...they have modified their recipe as per 'todays' taste.They have started making 'Cheese Dabelis' as well!!!! They put a ton of cheese over the potato filling ....no wonder it tastes good!
The Dabeli bread/bun is little different than the usual 'Hamburger' bun which we get here.The Dabeli bun is 'crustier' and when warmed on the 'Tava'...you can almost get a crunchy top. The 'Kaiser' Rolls that we get here in USA come very close to the 'Dabeli bun'. The bun is smeared with a Tangy and sweet 'Tamarind-Jaggery chutney' before the filling is added to the bread.
This spicy-tangy creation just tastes D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S and out of this world!

4 Kaiser Rolls
1 onion chopped
1tbsp chopped cilantro
1tbsp Pomogranate seeds
1tbsp roasted peanuts
1tbsp Thin sev
1tbsp Tuti Frooti/ Chopped marciano cherries

For the filling:
2 Potatoes boiled and mashed well
2tsp 'Siddhi' Dabeli masala or else make your own (http://www.tarladalal.com/recipe.asp?id=2812).The 'Bombay Magic Dabeli' masala is pretty good too.
The 'Siddhi Dabeli masala' is my favorite.It makes authentic Dabelis.It has fennel, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, dried mango and whole bunch of other stuff. It is De......licious!
1tbsp Raisins
1tbsp Cashews
chili powder(only if masala doesn't have it)
Heat 1tbsp oil,add the Dabeli masala,mashed potatoes, nuts,rainins.Fry for 3-4 mins untill well mixed. Keep aside.

For the Tamarind-Jaggery Chutney:
1 tbsp Tamarind extract
1/4 cup grated jaggery (more if needed)
1/2tsp Chat masala
1/2tsp Cumin-corainder powder
1/4tsp chili powder
1/4tsp garlic paste
Mix everything together and add enough water to make thin chutney(almost watery).The Chutney is tangy-sweet and spicy..all at the same time. Your mouth will immediately water at the smell of this chutney!

Assembly of the Dabeli:
1) Cut the Kaiser roll into half horizontally.
2) Apply the tamarind chutney on both the inner sides.
3) Add 2 spoonfull of potato filling,top it with peanuts, onions, pomogranate, Tooti-Frooti, Thin sev,Cilantro etc.Press the Dabeli shut
4) On a medium -low flame heat a flat pan/tava. Add a small amount of butter and place the Dabeli on the tava. Roast the bun till golden brown and crunchy on both sides.Press the bun a little while roasting to help get a crunchy texture.
5) Serve warm.
Bite into the crunchy bread with spicy-tangy-sweet filling.....and experience jumping of your taste buds with joy!!!

 I am sending this recipe as entry for the Regional Cuisine of India (RCI-Mumbai) event by 'Kitchenchronicles' and Lakshmi Krishnans blog-Veggie Cuisine

Friday, November 20, 2009

"Everyday Cooking"- Chicken Jalfrezi

How many different ways are there to cook Chicken??? 100....1000's....probably yes! Chicken is like blank paper...it will take up any color (flavor  here) you cook it in. It goes well in very spicy Thai dishes,as well as milder tasting chinese dishes. You can make Spicy as well as mild Indian curries with it.Use it in soups and salads. You can fry it,boil it, roast it, saute it, shred it....It will take up any flavor.
One thing I haven't tasted and probably never want to is...Chicken dessert!
Oh wait....who would make that? I know..they make 'Turkey Ice-cream...yes you read right..TURKEY ICECREAM..in the 'Iron Chef ' competitions on food network! Who would want to eat that????
Not me atleast!!!!!!!
After 2 weeks of not buying chicken...because of the movie we watched (Food Inc) about slaughtering and mass production of meat.....this week....I went back to buying chicken.....
I made this Chicken Jalfrezi with boneless chicken that I had purchased. 'Chicken Jalfrezi' is a dish with thick sauce and veggies like Onion,Green pepper and tomatoes'.The spicyness can differ from mild tasting to spicy.

1lb Boneless chicken tenders
1 onion finely chopped
1 onion cut into bite size pieces
1/4 cup crushed tomatoes
1-2 fresh tomatoes cut into bite size pieces
1 green pepper cut into bite size pieces
1/4 cup Spring onion/green onions
1/2tsp Garam masala
1/2tsp Cumin-coriander powder
1/2tsp cumin
1/4tsp chili powder
1/2tsp ginger garlic paste
1/4tsp turmeric
1/8tsp black pepper
Cilantro for garnishing

1) Cut the boneless chicken into bite size pieces.Marinate with ginger-garlic paste, salt and turmeric.Leave for 1/2 hr.
2) Heat 1/2tsp oil on high flame.Add the bite size cut veggies.Fry for couple mins.The veggies should remain crisp.Remove the veggies in a plate.Sprinkle 1-2 pinches salt and pepper.
2) Heat 1/2tsp oil again in the same pan.Add the marinated chicken pieces.Fry till golden brown.Remove in a plate.
3) Heat 1/2tsp oil, add cumin, finely chopped onion and fry. Add the crushed tomatoes,fry till the onion and tomatoes come together.Add the remaining spicesand salt,little water and let it boil. The curry is pretty thick.
4) Add back the chicken, cook for 2-3 mins.Add back the veggies and cook for 1-2 mins.Turn off the heat.
5) Add cut spring onions, cilantro for garnishing.
6) Enjoy warm with Chapati/ Naan/ Rice.

1) Cashews and raisins can be added to give a 'special' touch to the dish.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Food For Thought"- What are your Refrigerator/Pantry staples?

Everyone has their own Refrigerator/Pantry staples.Things you cannot think you can cook without or stay without.It all depends on your cooking style,your preference and ofcourse your convenience. By 'staples' I mean.... things which reflect your unique cooking or just your choice to have them.Some of the things can be common in everyones household ..but some may surprise you...

Some examples from people I know....and their kitchen would be-
Like for me:
In my Refrigerator you will always find Carrots, Green pepper,tomatoes and broccoli. All the other veggies will come and go on rotation.But these are so versatile for me....I can add these to curries, soups, noodles, pastas etc etc.They go well in 'any' cuisine.
My freezer is always stocked with Frozen green peas,mix veggie and frozen corn.I love to add these to many dishes I make....for nutrition as well as for the 'burst' of color they offer.
Other things I cannot cook without are onions and garlic.....I have to have these all the time!
In the Pantry..I have a stock of some kind of Pasta, crushed tomatoes (to make soups, marinara sauce for pastas,to add to curries etc) and some kind of beans (Garbanzo, kidney or blac beans) for adding to soups/salads or a quick curry.
My mom:
Apart from the 'usual' veggies, my mom always has couple 'boiled potatoes' in the refrigerator.She says they are pretty handy and she can make quick snacks, chaats, parathas,curries whenever needed and not wait for potatoes to boil 10-20 mins before she can actually make the dish.
I do that sometimes myself....but I don't have them as 'Staple' all the time.I will boil couple potaoes in the pressure cooker if there is 'extra' space in the cooker and use them in something in next 2-3 days.
My friends:
My freind 'P' said she always has 'Frozen Spinach' in her freezer.She doesn't let go any chance to add spinach if she can add it to her cooking.So it is convenient and nutritious at the sametime.I had never purchased 'frozen' spinach before.I always used to buy the fresh bagged one..which I used up within 2-3 days after grocery shopping,otherwise it goes bad.But then, if I had to cook something which 'can' have Spinach later in the week, I couldn't add it. Couple weeks ago,I did try the frozen one as 'P' mentioned...and I love it! I can use it in so many different things! I have made fillings for Phyllo Cups, Puff pastry Pinwheels etc.
Other thing 'P' buys often is "Rotisserie Chicken".She says once you buy it..you find ways and dishes to use it up! I haven't tried that one yet.
My friend 'V' once mentioned to me that most of the grocery money goes in buying 'tomatoes'! I know that was 'exaggeration'...but I am sure 'tomatoes' are the 'Staple' of her kitchen.She actually buys them from farm in bulk whenever possible.That's a smart coice!
My friend "A" is a 'heathy' eater...all about soups and salads.I guess her staples are 'lots of veggies' and 'beans'.
How about you? Would you like to share your favorite staples and some ideas to use those...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Everyday Cooking"- Stuffed Okra/ Bharali bhendi

As a kid, I LOVED okra! We call it 'Bhendi' in marathi ( language we speak in Pune,India). My mom tells me, to get me to wake up in the morning....only thing she had to say was...." Come on wake up...There is Bhendi for lunch"!!!  And...it seems I would get up right away and ask for lunch! Hahah!
May be my mom was exaggerating....but I still remember liking it very much! My father used to joke that....since I like Okra soooo much.....I would have to marry a 'Okra Farmer" so that I can always have okra whenever I want! And the fun part is....."M" (my husband) comes from a family who did own a farm where they planted okra in one plot! How funny is that!!!!
There are number of ways you can prepare okra.You can slice it into discs and fry it, stuff it, add it to Sambar (lentils) etc etc.As a kid I liked the simply sliced one and fried in oil with turmeric,mustard,chili powder and salt. Same goes for my little 'E'...he likes it that way too!
But as I grew up,I also started liking this 'stuffed' okra that my mom used to prepare.
Here is the recipe for Sour-sweet-spicy Okra, stuffed with peanut,sesame,tamarind,jaggery etc.

1lb Okra (look for slender ones)
1/2cup Finely Crushed peanut
1/4 cup roasted sesame seeds
1/2tsp ginger garlic paste
1/2tsp tamarind extract
1/2tsp Jaggery/ Brown sugar
1/2tsp turmeric
1/4tsp Chili powder
1/2tsp Cumin-corainder powder
1/2tsp Maharashtrian masala (optional)
1/4tsp Cumin
1/4tsp mustard seeds

1)   Mix together, crushed peanuts, sesame,ginger garlic paste, tamarind,jaggery, cumin-corainder powder,chili powder,turmeric etc. The mixture will be moist but crumbly.
2)Wash Okra and pat it dry. With a sharp knife, give a slit vertically. Gently put your finger in the slit and widen it a little bit.
3) Stuff the slit with 1/2tsp or so of the filling.Press it shut.

4) Heat some oil on low flame.Add mustard and cumin and let it splutter.Add turmeric and little bit chili powder.
5) Add the stuffed okra and gently toss.
6) Cover the pan and let it cook for 3-4 mins on low flame. Do not overcook. The okra should hold its shape.
7) Serve warm with Chapati (Indian flat bread) or roll it in a tortilla to make a tasty wrap.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Appetizers"- Puff Pastry 'Pinwheels' with Spinach-Corn-Ricotta Cheese Filling

Awesome Discovery:
Usually I never get to watch TV in the the mornings.....too busy doing other things.But last week, 'E' did not have to go to his nursery pretty much all last week.So,one morning after engaging him in 'Painting' activity,I turned on my favorite channel.....Food Network.It was Michael Chiarello's show and he was making these amazing little appetizers from Puffpastry stuffed with pesto and sundried tomatoes. He was folding the puffpastry into 'Pinwheels'. I thought they looked really cool and couldn't wait to try them out. I first tried the shape on a paper..just to make sure...I could get it right...
For the filling: I made a different filling though.....with Spinach,corn and ricotta and parmesan cheese. I was little skeptical whether my filling will taste good,whether the Ricotta will melt and ooze out,whether the frozen spinach will be too wet for the puffpastry......but no.....the Spinach-Corn-Ricotta Pinwheels came out PERFECT!!!
Crunchy on the outside....soft creamy filling on the inside.....JUST DELICIOUS!!! I would rate these as one of the best appetizers I ever had!
I was soooooo happy with myself yesterday....
When 'M' came back from work last evening....after seeing the pinwheels his reaction was...."WOW...they are soooo beautifull !!!
I took pictures as I was doing each step ....so everyone can try these out ASAP!

1 Sheet Pepperidge farm Puff pastry sheet
For the filling:
1/2 cup frozen spinach
1/4cup frozen corn kernels+ 1tbsp corn
1 tbsp Ricotta cheese
1/4cup grated parmesan cheese (gives nice nutty,salty taste)
1/4tsp garlic paste
1/4tsp black pepper
1tsp Bread crumbs (so soak extra liquid in the filling)
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pinch red pepper flakes
 Microwave the Spinach and Corn for 4 mins in the microwave untill thawed.Drain any excess liquid.Mix with the cheeses, black pepper, red pepper flakes, bread crumbs, garlic, nutmeg,salt etc.Keep refrigerated till ready to use.
1) Thaw the puffpastry as per packet directions. Cut the sheet into 9 squares.Cut each square on all the 4 corners diagonally about 1 inch in.

2) Place a spoonfull filling in the center of the square. Start folding each corner towards the center of the square,onto the filling. This is the pinwheel shape.
3) Press all the four folded corners neatly but gently into the center and press some corn kernels in the center.This helps in keeping the corners in place and looks pretty too!
4) Bake at 350 F for about 20 mins till the pinwheels turn crisp and golden brown.
5) Serve warm with Ketchup/Hot and sweet sauce. Enjoy the crisp flaky pastry with smooth creamy filling!

1) Puff pastrries are pretty versatile and can be filled with savory as well as sweet fillings.
Fruits cut up and mixed with ricotta cheese can be used as filling.For garnishing strawberries/cherries can be tucked in the center.
2) Cooked ground chicken spiced with garam masala and mint can be used as filling.Use 'cherry tomato' to tuck into the center.
3) Spiced potato filling with garam masala,mint,cumin with 'peas' tucked in the center.

The possibilities are endless.....lets explore them together....come...share your ideas!

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Fusion Cuisine"- Chinese Vegetable Pasta

"Fusion Cooking/Cuisine" is created sometimes....for 'innovation' and sometimes just for 'convenience'.
The examples of "Convenience Fusion Cooking" will be -using Wonton wrappers/Pie crust to make Samosas, using Ricotta cheese to make Pedhas, using Spaghetti to make Chinese Noodles etc etc....
We learn to create and work with whatever ingredients we have...and make something that we have either never eaten before or make something we always make but with just.... new ingredients.
One of my friends, who is actually not very much into 'cooking' makes this "Poha Pasta"! What he does is....he makes the recipe for the Poha with onions, mustard,cumin,turmeric etc..but adds cooked pasta instead of Poha!And it tastes good! Another recipe I read was about using 'macaroni' in daal to make the typical Maharashtrian 'Varan Phala".How innovative is that!
So....this weekend was 'Childrens Day"...November 14.There was a party for this occasion and we all were supposed to bring in something for lunch.I was wondering what to make...what kids will like...etc etc.
I was planning to make Chinese fried rice (because kids usually like the 'mild flavors" and colorfull veggies in this rice), but got to know that 3 other people were making some kind of rice as well. Then I thought,why not make Chinese Pasta???  Kids love pasta......and it will have all the flavors/sauces/ingredients of Chinese fried rice and the same colorfull veggies! Also, at social occasions eating in paper plates,with plastic spoons, holding the plate in one hand and eating.....it becomes hard to tackle foods like Noodles or Saucy curries/ Gravies etc. Short cut pastas( like Rotini/Fusili,Penne etc) done relatively 'unsaucy'....work, in my opinion, best.Everyone(including kids) can enjoy eating those with a fork without much hassle. Here is the recipe for my "Chinese Pasta" .I did exactly everything as I would do for 'Vegetable Fried Rice"....but added Pasta instead of rice.That was it ....the marriage of Italy and China for 'my convenience'!
3 cups Short Cut Pasta of your Choice(I like Rotini because of its shape)
1/4cup Onion cut into bite size pieces
1/4cup Green Pepper
1/4cup Red Bell Pepper
1/4cup Carrots
1/4cup Broccoli
1tbsp Corn kernels
1tbsp Green peas
1tbsp Green onion leaves/spring onions for garnish
1/2tsp Ginger garlic paste
1/2tsp Soy sauce
1/2tsp Hot and sweet sauce
1/4tsp ground chili paste
1/4tsp black pepper
1/4tsp sugar
2tsbsp Roasted Cashews

1) Boil pasta in salted water till cooked (about 10 mins).Drain and keep aside.
2) In a Wok or big pan, heat some oil, add the ginger garlic paste and all the veggies.Saute for 2 mins on high flame.This will help in keeping the veggies 'crisp' and not soggy.
3) Add the cooked pasta,all the sauces,spices and mix.
4) Turn off the flame and garnish with spring onions and roasted cashews.
5) Enjoy the Chinese Flavored pasta warm or at room temp!